Petronas Sprinta Racing‘s Darryn Binder takes the top spot in the final Free Practice, ahead of today’s Qualifying session.
A hot, dusty session produced no significant improvements in the combined times in FP3. 42°C track temperature and very murky conditions out on the back part of the circuit, with the desert sand swirling in the air, doesn’t bode well for the riders aiming for the optimal lap time.
The big news is that 7 riders have been handed a pitlane start penalty for irresponsible riding yesterday in FP2. Leopard Racing Dennis Foggia, Sterilgarda Max Racing Team’s Romano Fenati, GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Team‘s Sergio Garcia, Red Bull KTM Ajo‘s rookie Pedro Acosta, Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Oncu and BOE Owlride‘s duo Riccardo Rossi and Stefano Nepa were all dawdling on the racing line – which we know race direction are very hard on these days – but some riders choose not to learn.
Sergio Garcia has ruined his opportunity to have a good starting position on tomorrow’s grid, sitting 2nd in the overall times but will be sitting in the pitlane when the lights go out.
Rookie Pedro Acosta, who podiumed last week with a sterling ride, had a huge moment in the murk of today’s session with the bumping and bucking Red Bull KTM. He sits in 9th in combined times, but will also start from pitlane, so a podium this week is looking rather unlikely. Teammate and last week’s winner, Jaume Masia had a quiet session in 11th but sits in 6th on the overall timesheets – so he is firmly in Q2.
Dennis Foggia had a good string of laps to top the session, but he will head through Q1 after suffering in the combined times yesterday. He was wiped out in the first lap last weekend, and it appears his luck hasn’t changed this weekend. His rookie teammate and double-long lap penalty holder Xavier Artigas also had a good session, sitting in 3rd. Leopard Racing look to have a rather difficult weekend ahead of them, which is a shame when their riders do look strong.
Petronas Sprinta Racing rider Darryn Binder seems to be having a stronger pre-race this week, topping the timesheets on combined times, after earning 2nd in FP3. His teammate, John McPhee, was 3rd in today’s session, and is 4th overall. With a few of the strong riders having penalties against their names, the Scot stands a good chance of a good qualifying result later today.
Avintia Esponsorama Moto3 rider Niccolo Antonelli also had a good session, finishing in 6th and is just about into Q2 on combined times. Hopefully this is a turn in fortune for the Italian, after a tough few years in the class. His younger teammate, Spaniard Carlos Tatay, had a lucky escape early on when he was thrown up and out of the seat at Turn 6, but managed to regather his composure and continue unscathed. The rider showed promise at the end of last year but is yet to light up the timing screens in Qatar this year, sitting 21st on combined times.
Pitlane starts, long-lap penalties, sand storms and the usual excitement of Moto3 has set this weekend up to be a thriller. Qualifying later today will be interesting to say the least.
Watch Q1 today at 17:30 (GMT +3).
Feature Image: Petronas SRT